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Old Thu May 19, 2016, 08:54am
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How to become a referee in the US

Good morning everyone!
I am 25, I am from Italy, and I will move to the US (Philadelphia, PA) next July.
I have been a referee for the Italian Basketball Federation since 2008, where I came to be eligible to referee in the Fourth Italian Senior Division.
I am writing in this forum since I would like to continue refereeing also in the US, but it is not clear to me where to start, and I would need some help!
If you were so kind to answer a few questions, I would really appreciate it:
  • Given that I am moving to Philadelphia, I had a look at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association website. Is that a good start?
  • Is it true that one starts officiating at the high school level?
  • How does one advance to higher levels? In Italy referees are evaluated on the basis of quizzes and officiated games, and at the end of the year there is some kind of ranking, and the best gets promoted onto the next level (i.e. from the fourth to the third division). Does that happen also in the US?
  • Is it possible to officiate in the NCAA for example after a few years of experience?
  • Do you usually have games in one state or is it possible that one needs to travel from one state to the other?
  • Are referees paid?
  • Which kind of rules are followed? FIBA ones? Do they change from association to association?
  • Does one need to referee a very large number of games per year to advance his career as a referee?

Sorry for the large number of questions but I have really little idea of where to begin, and even after several searches on the internet I could not find very useful information! Any kind of help or information on how things work would be really appreciated!

Thank you all!

Last edited by italian_referee; Thu May 19, 2016 at 09:10am.
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Old Thu May 19, 2016, 10:21am
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1. yes --start @ PIAA: join that group pay yer fees and get games--you can always branch out to other associations later on.

2. yes-- you will ref a combo of sub-varsity and varsity games.

3. advancement in the American state-based system is based on a variety of factors--don't worry about advancing just do a good job with the games you are given to ref.

4. yes--you can ref in the NCAA (likely division 3 for starters) or the NJCAA without going thru a HS/NF reffing tenure because the officiating has become so "standardized" now a days such that each level has their own set of rules, ref associations, and their own set of game assigners.

5. You will likely have games in border states--so get the certification in contiguous states--but just start out in Penn.

6. Refs are paid and taxes are filed per your ssn.

7. Rule sets for interscholastic level follow the NF--though each state may have unique "covenants" (i.e., particular applications/interpretations of a rule) that they expect you to follow.

8. No--you don't need to wear yourself out reffing a million games to advance (see item # 3 above-cited).

Ciao bello!
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Old Thu May 19, 2016, 10:25am
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Thank you Kansas Ref!!

May I ask you what the acronym NF stands for? and what do you mean exactly with "HS/NF reffing tenure"?

Thank you again!

Last edited by italian_referee; Thu May 19, 2016 at 10:28am.
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Old Thu May 19, 2016, 11:16am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by italian_referee View Post
Good morning everyone!
I am 25, I am from Italy, and I will move to the US (Philadelphia, PA) next July.
I have been a referee for the Italian Basketball Federation since 2008, where I came to be eligible to referee in the Fourth Italian Senior Division.
I am writing in this forum since I would like to continue refereeing also in the US, but it is not clear to me where to start, and I would need some help!
If you were so kind to answer a few questions, I would really appreciate it:
  • 1. Given that I am moving to Philadelphia, I had a look at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association website. Is that a good start?
  • 2. Is it true that one starts officiating at the high school level?
  • 3. How does one advance to higher levels? In Italy referees are evaluated on the basis of quizzes and officiated games, and at the end of the year there is some kind of ranking, and the best gets promoted onto the next level (i.e. from the fourth to the third division). Does that happen also in the US?
  • 4. Is it possible to officiate in the NCAA for example after a few years of experience?
  • 5. Do you usually have games in one state or is it possible that one needs to travel from one state to the other?
  • 6. Are referees paid?
  • 7. Which kind of rules are followed? FIBA ones? Do they change from association to association?
  • 8. Does one need to referee a very large number of games per year to advance his career as a referee?

Sorry for the large number of questions but I have really little idea of where to begin, and even after several searches on the internet I could not find very useful information! Any kind of help or information on how things work would be really appreciated!

Thank you all!
Hey buddy, welcome to the US. First, I will give you a rundown of the types of basketball played in the US. Here are some of the general types: recreational (all ages, U8 to adult), competitive recreational (called AAU or travel basketball, ages U11 to U18), amatuer (high school, college), and professional (lower level pro leagues, D League, NBA).

We do not have "divisions" like you do in Italy, and the level where you can referee depends 1) how good you are and 2) how good assignors (people who assign referees to games) think you are. Do you happen to have video of one of your games? If you could post it or send it to me we could give you an idea of how your "fourth division" referee skills translate.

To answer your questions:

1. Yes, it is best to start with the state high school association. Find out how they license officials and get signed up. Then try to find out their process for assigning games. Do they assign by association? Join the local association. Do they use an assignor? Find out who the assignor is, call them, and explain your situation and reffing history. Ask if there is a way to see you work. Do the schools themselves assign the games? Find an experienced referee who can help you getting to know Athletic Directors and start calling schools.

2. Generally refs here start with youth basketball (recreational or competitive), progress to middle school games (7th/8th grade A/B teams, lower level high school games (C Team, Freshman team, Sophomore team, Junior Varsity, Varsity), and then to college games (NAIA, NCAA Division 3, 2, 1) if they are good enough. But it is not a linear progression because every referee grows at a different rate so there may be some college refs who go directly from middle school to college games, and other refs that may go from doing competitive youth games to doing high school games. I'd suggest you referee whatever type of game you can to start -- you can start being picky about what kind of basketball you work later.

3. Advancement to higher levels varies. Often it involves going to a "camp" where you referee games and are observed by more experienced referees to see how you do. If they like you and think you can referee, then they will hire/begin to use you. If they don't, listen to the comments they tell you, take what works for you, and work hard on improving your game. The best thing to help you improve (especially at the start) is to get video of your games and watch it carefully to see what you can improve.

4. Yes it is possible to officiate NCAA games in a few years, depending on whether you are good enough and the observers at camp like you.

5. For high school games you will typically stay in that state. If you live near a state border you may choose to join the other state's high school association to referee in that state as well. If you do higher level games like college or lower professional leagues you may travel out of state often to referee games.

6. Yes, referees are paid. The pay ranges anywhere from $20 for a youth game to $50-80 for a high school game, $150-250 for NCAA Division 3 and $1000-2500+ for NCAA Division 1.

7. We have three main rule sets in the United States: NFHS (National Federation of High Schools, or Fed for short), NCAA-Men's (National Collegiate Athletic Association), and NCAA-Women's. At the college level the rules between Men's and Women's games are different. Unfortunately, there is not much use of the FIBA rule set unless you are working scrimmages/games between the various US national teams and other countries national teams. There is also something called "IAABO" (International Association of Approved Basketball Officials) but I don't really know if that is it's own rule set or just modifications to the rules or mechanics or what. I'm sure someone else can chime in if Pennsylvania uses IAABO.

8. The key to being a good referee is minimizing your mistakes and being able to handle situations that come up in the game. This ranges from calling the plays, to knowing how to adjudicate the weird rules, to managing frustration on the part of players/coaches, keeping the game under control, and being a good partner and someone who other refs like to work with. Most of those things can be helped by having lots of experience, which sometimes means reffing a lot of games and sometimes means picking which games you work carefully. As you start out thought I would suggest giving any type of game a shot, at least until you get comfortable knowing how things work in your area. Good luck!

Last edited by AremRed; Thu May 19, 2016 at 11:18am.
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Old Thu May 19, 2016, 04:11pm
LRZ LRZ is offline
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Pay PIAA $30 and they will send you the high school rulebook (NF = National Federation of High Schools); take and pass the PIAA exam (given several times a year, February, June, October); then join a local chapter, where you can connect with assigners. There are twelve PIAA chapters in and around the Philadelphia area. Assigners generally assign school and recreational games; my guess is you will have to work your way up and start with kids/middle school (ages 12-14 or so). Usually, you need PIAA certification to ref non-school/rec leagues games.

PHiladelphia is surrounded by four suburban counties, and there are many schools and recreational leagues around. I belong to the Abington PIAA chapter, meeting in one of the suburbs. Depending on where you live, you should have ample opportunity to work, but you will probably want to limit your driving. Moving up is very much a political game, around here.

When you arrive in the US and get settled, PM me if you like. We can talk and I can perhaps offer more appropriate guidance for you. --Roy

Last edited by LRZ; Thu May 19, 2016 at 10:22pm.
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Old Fri May 20, 2016, 09:46am
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Thank you LRZ, I will text you in the summer then!

Marco
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Old Sat May 21, 2016, 08:19pm
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Originally Posted by italian_referee View Post
Thank you LRZ, I will text you in the summer then!

Marco
Brush up on American HS rules.

This link is the absolute best for comparing NFHS ( American HS ) to FIBA

http://www.hamiltonboard.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/4.02-Ontario-Basketball-Rule-Differences.pdf
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Old Sat May 21, 2016, 11:32pm
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If you have a resume from your previous association that is acceptable to the state Association you may not have to live in purgatory as long.
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Old Sun May 22, 2016, 04:52am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by constable View Post
Brush up on American HS rules.

This link is the absolute best for comparing NFHS ( American HS ) to FIBA

http://www.hamiltonboard.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/4.02-Ontario-Basketball-Rule-Differences.pdf
Thank you constable! This link is absolutely great!
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Old Sun May 22, 2016, 11:39am
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Resources

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Originally Posted by constable View Post
Brush up on American HS rules.
Here's another site dedicated exclusively to National Federation (high school) rules and mechanics, aimed at both trainers and those being trained: my Virtual Officials Association
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Old Sun May 22, 2016, 02:30pm
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With Apologies To Arthur Rubinstein ...

How does one become a referee in the United States?

The same way one gets to Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Practice, practice, practice!

Sorry I couldn't help myself. Plus, our Italian friend probably won't get the reference, just like my Australian son-in-law didn't get it, and just like my Chinese daughter-in-law didn't get it. It's no fun when one has to explain why one's jokes are funny.

On the other hand, there is some truth to this answer.
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Old Sun May 22, 2016, 02:40pm
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Originally Posted by BillyMac View Post
How does one become a referee in the United States?

The same way one gets to Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Practice, practice, practice!

Sorry I couldn't help myself. Plus, our Italian friend probably won't get the reference, just like my Australian son-in-law didn't get it, and just like my Chinese daughter-in-law didn't get it. It's no fun when one has to explain why one's jokes are funny.

On the other hand, there is some truth to this answer.
He ain't the only one.

Peace
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Old Sun May 22, 2016, 03:04pm
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The Chicagoland Version Would Be Orchestra Hall In Chicago ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRutledge View Post
He ain't the only one.
Carnegie Hall is the preeminent classical concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, NY.

Rumor is that a pedestrian on Fifty-seventh Street, Manhattan, stopped Jascha Heifetz and inquired, "Could you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?" "Yes," said Heifetz. "Practice!"

This old joke has become part of the folklore of the hall, but its origins remain a mystery. According to The New York Times, the main player in the story has been described at various times as either an unnamed man, violinist Jascha Heifetz or the pianist Arthur Rubinstein. On its webpage, Carnegie Hall quotes the wife of violinist Mischa Elman as having perhaps the best story of its origin: "One day, after a rehearsal that hadn’t pleased Elman, the couple was leaving Carnegie Hall by the backstage entrance when they were approached by two tourists looking for the hall’s entrance. Seeing his violin case, they asked, 'How do you get to Carnegie Hall?' Without looking up and continuing on his way, Elman simply replied, 'Practice.'”

It's true. A joke isn't funny any more if one has to explain why the joke is funny.
__________________
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

“I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:36)

Last edited by BillyMac; Sun May 22, 2016 at 04:50pm.
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Old Sun May 22, 2016, 05:50pm
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If you get asked to work what's called AAU basketball, I highly recommend you stay far away unless you're short on cash. Even then it still wouldn't be worth it in my experience.
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Old Sun May 22, 2016, 10:43pm
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Originally Posted by SC Official View Post
If you get asked to work what's called AAU basketball, I highly recommend you stay far away unless you're short on cash. Even then it still wouldn't be worth it in my experience.
I'd encourage him to work it to get used to the USA style of ball.
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